Sunday, August 2, 2009

ISA HK/China --- Incoming Mail (HK$ 500/tree for Tree Assessment ?)

Guidelines for Professional Fees for ISA Certified Arborist (CA) & ISA Certified Tree Worker (CTW) Services in Hong Kong (July 2006 Edition)

Introduction: The preparation of these Guidelines takes into consideration the charges of other related professional services in Hong Kong at the time of preparation, & has referenced similar services provided in other countries overseas. They are meant only as a reference for the general public & within the profession. These charges were designed to reflect the extent of professional services rendered and to cover the obligations required of a CA or a CTW in offering tree services. Significant deviation from these charges may require further justification and explanation by the service provider & employer alike.

(A) For CA services:

1. General Consulting (which includes but not limited to tree inspections, project supervision, in-situ planting consultation, on site response to questions, etc.):

a. If only a verbal assessment is to be given --- HK$4,000.00 minimum for a half days work of 4 hours, & HK$6,000.00 minimum for a full days work of 7 hours. An hourly charge of HK$800.00 minimum can be applied as overtime. Please note the CA has the right to include 1 hour for traveling in his time calculation, e.g. For a half day (or full day) rate, the CA can take 1 hour for traveling to site & 3 hours (or 6 hours) of actual work will be provided.

b. If a written report is to be submitted --- HK$6,000.00 minimum for a half days visit, & HK$10,000.00 minimum for a full days visit. This takes into consideration of the time, effort & liabilities incurred in producing a formal written report which is signed by the CA and endorsed with his (her) name & Certification No. The CA will assume legal liabilities for the accuracy of the information contained in any written report.

2. Hazard Tree Assessment

This is a more specific area of inspection which may involve the use of tools & skills.

a. If only a visual inspection is given without deployment of drilling tools & tree climbing equipment --- HK$ 1,500.00 minimum per tree. The minimum charge for any visit is HK$4,000.00 minimum regardless of the number of trees to be inspected for any one visit.

b. If visual inspection is given plus the deployment of drilling tools, or tree climbing equipment, or any other additional equipment --- HK$2,000.00 minimum per tree. The minimum charge for any visit is HK$6,000.00 regardless of the number of trees to be inspected for any one visit. This takes into consideration of the initial cost & maintenance of the equipment to be deployed. The CA may have to bring in a tree climber if he/she cannot climb & this cost is included in the above-mentioned charges.

A written report is considered to be an essential deliverable for any Hazard Tree Assessment.

3. Legal Consultancy

There are two major forms of acting as a consultant to lawyers for legal cases in Hong Kong, either as a 'Consulting Expert' who can advocate for the client, or as an 'Expert Witness' who must be impartial to the Court. Although the nature of the two services provided is different, the time & effort in acting for either are nearly the same. Either position can bring legal liabilities upon the CA. Therefore, the charges for acting as either will be the same.

a. To produce a written report as a Consulting Expert or Expert Witness --- HK$25,000.00 minimum for a minimum size report to include one site visit only, research, writing up and deliverables. This charge usually refers to a report requiring 3 days of work to complete. If the report involves more work, the CA can charge an additional HK$10,000.00 minimum per day's work on top of this minimum charge. For e.g., a report requiring 7 days to write up can be charged at HK$75,000.00 minimum for any one report.

b. To reply to any response from opposing lawyers --- This usually happens after the CA's report is delivered to the opposing side’s lawyers who may employ their own experts to challenge the CA's report. The charge here is HK$10,000.00 minimum per day's work for the CA.

c. To appear in Court as witness --- HK$10,000.00 minimum per day irrespective of the length of the Court session for that day. For e.g. if the Court session takes 3 days to complete, the CA can charge HK$30,000.00 minimum as a total fee.

d. To act as technical consultant to lawyers outside Court --- HK$2,000.00 minimum per hour with a minimum charge of 2 hours to cover for the traveling expenses.

(B) For CTW Services:

1. General Tree Climbing (which includes but not limited to tree inspection, crown hazard identification, animal rescue, other menial work on tree top, etc.) --- HK$4,000.00 minimum for a half day work of 4 hours, & HK$6,000.00 minimum for a full day work of 7 hours. Hourly charge of HK$800.00 minimum can be charged as overtime. Please note the CTW has the right to include 1 hour for traveling in his time calculation, e.g. For a half day (or full day) rate, the CTW can take 1 hour for traveling to site & 3 hours (or 6 hours) of actual work will be provided.

2. Specialist Tree Climbing (which includes but not limited to rigging, cable installation, utilities management, Show Climb, etc.) --- HK$6,000.00 minimum for a half days work of 4 hours, & HK$8,000.00 minimum for a full days work of 7 hours. An hourly charge of HK$1,000.00 minimum can be applied for overtime. Please note the CTW has the right to include 1 hour for traveling in the time calculation, e.g. for a half day (or full day) rate, the CTW can take 1 hour for traveling to site & 3 hours (or 6 hours) of actual work will be provided.

3. Climbing Instruction (for beginner climbers, recreational climbers, chainsaw use, seminars & lectures, etc.) --- HK$750.00 minimum per hour at a minimum charge of two hours.

The CTW is expected to bring along his/her own climbing equipment as part of the service.


1. Lunch of 1 hour & coffee break of 30 minutes are not charged within the above services.

2. For any service or overtime occupying more than 15 minutes but not one full hour, it will still be charged at a full hour's rate. For any service or overtime not exceeding 15 minutes, no charge will be given.

3. Free access to site & cooperation of the client regarding information & facilities are required for any services to be offered by any CA & CTW.

4. The CA & CTW will cover himself/herself with Accident Insurance and Employees Compensation Insurance, & it is recommended that the Public Liability Insurance is to be provided by the client.

5. Variations to above charges may apply if the work site is located in a remote area with difficult access.

6. If the CA or CTW is required to work in exceptional weather such as typhoon, thunderstorm, Black Warning Rain, during unsocial hours from 7pm to 7am, or during Public Holidays the above charges may be doubled due to the extra effort involved.

7. These guidelines do not apply to overseas arborists working in Hong Kong due to their additional expenses on travel.

*** Our weekly Station Mail is for the information of Station Members only, but Station Mail has given up copyright & can be freely circulated. For administrative reasons, comments from outsiders are usually not entertained & may be circulated within our system locally & overseas. Please note Station Mail is sometimes given in Blog at , although images are usually not attached due to size. ***

Dear xxx,

It is heart breaking indeed to hear your information which has been reported separately by other Station Members to ISA HK/China for such unbelievably low cost for Arborist Service in HK recently. In fact, the CA Family of ISA HK/China has produced a Professional Fees Guidelines as per attached to guide the industry to compete not by the cheapest cost but by the quality of service with using a uniform pricing structure for all ISA credential holders (CA & CTW). Our territory has seen too many times that by offering a below the belt cost would usually lead to wanton work with foreseeable dispute between the employer & the service provider. The Professional Fees Guidelines also encourages the credential holders to advance themselves in knowledge & experience to receive continuous business, rather than just waving credentials alone.

The cost of HK$500 (HK$ 7.8 = US$ 1) per tree for a proper Tree Assessment may be the lowest in the world that ISA HK/China is aware of anywhere. Just imagine the CA has to arrive at site, inspect the tree from top to bottom, climb up with approved equipment & technique for Canopy Inspection, & then go back to the office to file a 4 - 6 page report with photos & description. Is all that just worth just HK$500 only? According to the Professional Fees Guidelines, the CA is entitled to be paid HK$10,000 for a day of service for this kind of work. If it is going to be HK$500 per tree, does it mean that the CA can assess up to 20 trees in a day? If so, this CA should be invited to speak in a public forum at ISA HK/China to share his/her work & experience with Station Arborists for public inquiry.

It appears that the feasible alternative to assess 20 trees in a day would be by quietly skipping Canopy Inspection without the employer noticing. This may be possible for private clients but usually not for Govt Depts who have their own CA's for site monitoring, unless that Govt CA is just as ignorant as the site CA to not demand Canopy Inspection with Tree Climbing or Aerial Inspection.

Therefore, take care in your cost bargaining with your prospective employer. The Station Manager as a leader in ISA HK/China has stood firm with the Professional Fees Guidelines every time in the past 4.5 years in any business negotiation. It will be the Guidelines or no deal. He has found the clients would gradually respect the Guidelines since they can calculate budget easily for employing Arborists. After all, the cost structure in the Guidelines is fair & reasonable to respect the time consumption of the Arborist in consideration of the nature of the service. Then why not follow it?

As a final reminder, please note every Arborist Report is a legal document & the CA/CTW signing it has agreed to undertake legal liabilities for their work. ISA HK/China has produced Station Mail on the requirement to conduct Tree Assessment in . We generally do not recommend CA/CTW with only 1 year of post -qualification to conduct this kind of sophisticated work, & anybody throwing himself/herself into it without adequate knowledge & experience is exposing oneself for future liabilities including credential revocation. Please therefore pay particular attention to this.

ISA HK/China is now seriously contemplating with undertaking Arborist work in conjunction with appropriate contractors to supply quality CA/CTW to meet market demand so that delivery can be guaranteed as well as generating income for ISA HK/China, since we do not charge for membership to provide tangible service. This act would also encourage cohesion of Station CA's to actively participate in ISA HK/China for personal advancement to be picked for rotational service if any Arborist work is secured. However, ISA HK/China will be very careful in procuring this to ensure the development of the Station is not polluted or jeopardizing our mission.

ISA HK/China will evolve to meet modern demand continuously.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

"If a tree is not designed, installed, maintained & inspected properly, it is likely to become a liability rather than an asset."

"Trees are good for the community. Trees need care like human beings. Arborists are the Tree Care Professionals."

From: xxx
Cc: yyy
Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 11:36 PM
Subject: Re: Tree Assessment

Dear Sammy Au,

We were approached for Tree Assessment service at HKD 500 per tree for a govt job.

Has the situation degraded to such an extent for CA's in HK that we are paid cheaper than a construction worker?

Can you comment publicly?